Friday, October 11, 2013

Understanding Purpose

Understanding Purpose
Understanding Purpose

I remember as a boy how much I loved model planes and cars. There was always a sense of excitement when I opened the box and looked at all the small pieces of plastic which had to be assembled together to become the finished product. Always, without exception, I would open the folded piece of paper which provided the assembly instructions and a diagram of each piece included in the kit. I would meticulously follow the instructions until I had an exact replica of the image on the box.

I didn’t know then, but I believe God was preparing me to be both analytical and solution-driven by learning the procedures for doing things correctly. I'm certain you'll agree with me that knowing and doing are not the same; still the seed was sown in me. I wish I could say that I have always followed procedures correctly, but I would be lying. As a Christian and as a software engineer, I have had my share of failures when I didn’t follow the correct instructions.

I once heard a minister say, “If you don’t know the purpose of a thing, you will only abuse it.” I believe that whenever we see the word, “abuse” used as the suffix of a word, it is the result of someone not understanding the true purpose of a person or thing. Child-abuse, spousal-abuse, parental-abuse, alcohol-abuse, and drug-abuse are just a few of the obvious abuses we are most familiar with; I’m certain there are many, many more.

How does one avoid becoming abusive?

There has to be a way to bypass what Hosea the prophet wrote in Hosea 4 when he said:

my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6, NIV)

There are three keys to understanding purpose: knowledge, discipline, and obedience.

Knowledge: To know the true purpose of anything, I must have knowledge which equips me with a level of understanding so I am successful in what I endeavor to do. A small child may not understand the difference between a left shoe and right shoe, but we would think it quite odd to see a man wearing his shoes on the wrong foot. I have watched hunting programs where men sit in trees or hide in tall grass waiting for the exact moment to shoot a deer, bear, moose or other animal. But those who would use weapons on humans, like what happened in a Kenyan mall, or here recently in DC, tells me that people lack an understanding of the purpose of human life. There is no honor in killing. Those who commit such acts dishonor not only themselves, but all life which the Lord created.

The opposite of knowledge is ignorance and ignorance can be quite damaging. I remember attempting to fix a leaking pipe once. I’m no plumber and I have no knowledge of plumbing, but I told myself I could fix this pipe. I approached the problem analytically, using my own knowledge of software solution problem solving: Remove a portion of the leaky pipe, replace it and presto change-o, problem solved! Unfortunately for me, I didn’t realize that pipes have to have exact fittings, exact lengths, everything must be precise; I wasn’t precise. I stripped the threads on the pipe and couldn’t remove it. The leak was now worse than before; I failed to use the proper tools and parts correctly to remedy the original problem because I lacked the requisite knowledge.

I didn’t know and in my ignorance, I caused a bigger problem for myself.

What’s the typical response when we’re stopped by law enforcement for speeding?

Officer, I had no idea I was speeding.

Our excuse is ignorance, but there is a purpose for posting signs to indicate the maximum speed. Perhaps there are children in the area, perhaps there is road construction ahead, or perhaps the road curves. Whatever the reason, there is a purpose for it. Have you ever come close to hitting another car or pedestrian because you failed to look left or right before turning? The purpose in doing so is obvious but sometimes, we’re in a hurry and purpose becomes secondary to what I want to do.

As a Christian, it’s vital that I understand the importance of God’s word and the correct application of it my life. You see, if I don’t understand the importance of prayer, I will abuse it through neglect. I will have a multitude of excuses for not praying. I don’t know how to pray, I prefer someone with faith pray on my behalf, or God doesn’t hear my prayers. These excuses are born from my ignorance of God’s word because the bible says:

...the prayer of the upright is his delight.” (Proverbs 15:8, NIV)

God delights when He hears you pray!

Why pray?

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14, NIV)

When you know God will hear you, you get excited about praying! My Father, the Creator of heaven and earth hears me! When a person doesn’t know that God not only hears, but listens with keen interest in hearing what you say, then prayer for you is erratic, it lacks consistency, and is too often uttered with little sincerity or depth from one’s heart.

Prayer is a strategic weapon God has given each believer to fight the good fight of faith. Prayer defeats the spiritual forces of darkness which oppose your life. There is a common enemy to every believer. This enemy seeks to undermine the purpose of prayer in your life; and the common method of spiritual attack is your own ignorance. You’ve heard it said that, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you”, but nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to knowing God’s word.

Jesus said:

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32, NIV)

The opposite of freedom is slavery and when I live my life in spiritual ignorance, I am a slave to sin, unbelief, doubt, worry, fear, and spiritual defeat.

This is why knowledge is so necessary to understanding purpose.

Next week, I will discuss the importance of discipline to understanding purpose.

A Note of Thanks: I would just like to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. Taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog is encouraging to me. Many of those who visit, will from time to time leave a comment. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came. I do hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I will pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I have not said it enough, but thank you for the light of Christ in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

Note: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).Spiritual Sunday's